Iatrogenic Exserohilum infection of the central nervous system: Mycological identification and histopathological findings

W. Robert Bell, Justin B. Dalton, Chad M. McCall, Sarah Karram, David T. Pearce, Warda Memon, Richard Lee, Karen C. Carroll, Jennifer L. Lyons, Elakkat D. Gireesh, Julie B. Trivedi, Deanna Cettomai, Bryan R. Smith, Tiffany Chang, Laura Tochen, John N. Ratchford, Daniel M. Harrison, Lyle W. Ostrow, Robert D. Stevens, Li ChenSean X. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


An outbreak of fungal infections has been identified in patients who received epidural injections of methylprednisolone acetate that was contaminated with environmental molds. In this report, we present the mycological and histopathological findings in an index case of Exserohilum meningitis and vasculitis in an immunocompetent patient, who received a cervical spine epidural steroid injection for chronic neck pain 1 week before the onset of fulminant meningitis with subsequent multiple brain and spinal cord infarcts. The fungus was recovered from two separate cerebrospinal fluid specimens collected before initiation of antifungal therapy and at autopsy on standard bacterial and fungal culture media. The mold was identified phenotypically as Exserohilum species. DNA sequencing targeting the internal transcribed spacer region and D1/D2 region of 28S ribosomal DNA enabled further speciation as E. rostratum. Gross examination at autopsy revealed moderate brain edema with bilateral uncal herniation and a ventriculostomy tract to the third ventricle. The brainstem, cerebellum, and right orbitofrontal cortex were soft and friable, along with hemorrhages in the cerebellar vermis and thalamus. Microscopic examination demonstrated numerous fungi with septate hyphae invading blood vessel walls and inducing acute necrotizing inflammation. The leptomeninges were diffusely infiltrated by mixed inflammatory cells along with scattered foci of fungal elements. This is the first report of iatrogenic E. rostratum meningitis in humans. This report describes the microbiological procedures and histopathological features for the identification of E. rostratum (a pigmented vascularly invasive fungi), the cause of a current nationwide outbreak of fatal fungal meningitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-170
Number of pages5
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Exserohilum rostratum
  • Fungal meningitis
  • epidural steroids
  • methylprednisolone
  • outbreak
  • vasculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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